Het woord ‘karakter’ stamt af van het Grieks woord χαράσσω [charasso] dat verwijst naar het krassen van patronen in een munt en als een beeldmerk van steenhouwer. Met elke keuze die wij maken, laat een spoor na. De som van deze sporen vormt gaandeweg het patroon van ons karakter.
Met elke keuze en actie die we nemen, voegen we weer een “spoor” toe aan ons karakter. Je karakter erf je dus niet. Dat bouw je dagelijks op door wat je denkt en doet. Beetje bij beetje, dag na dag. Deze unieke patroon bepaalt jouw ‘denken, voelen en handelen’.
Van oudsher is er veel belangstelling voor ‘karakter’ door filosofen, opvoeders, politieke leiders, pedagogen, sociologen, neurowetenschappers en ethici. Tot voor kort, zonder wetenschappelijke onderzoek, was ‘karakter’ doen ontaarden in grote verscheidenheid aan opvattingen en denkbeelden verkregen uit eigen ervaringen en methoden van experts en zelfhulpgoeroes.
De bovenstaande definitie is samengevat uit de meest recente wetenschappelijke onderzoek. The science of character staat afgelopen 10 jaar in de prioriteiten lijst van verschillende internationale universiteiten.
Top 15 van onderzoeken in 2018
Hieronder een short-list uit 2018. De belangrijkste thema’s waarin karaktervorming een significante positief effect erop heeft, zijn:
Happiness, Relationship satisfaction, Depression, Coping, Productivity, Caring, inquisitiveness, self-control, Exercise habits, Classroom behaviour and achievement, Resilience and Inclusiveness.
McGrath, R. E. (in press 2018). What is character education? Development of a prototype. Journal of Character Education. This paper uses recent literature to offer a prototype of seven features by which character education programs might be evaluated and discussed
Schutte, N. S., & Malouff, J. M. (2018). The impact of signature character strengths interventions: A meta-analysis. The results found that the signature strengths intervention had a positive impact on happiness, depression, and life satisfaction.
Duan, W., Bu, H., Zhao, J., & Guo, X. (2018). Examining the mediating roles of strengths knowledge and strengths use in a 1 year single session character strength based cognitive intervention. This showed significant increases in thriving and decreases in negative emotional symptoms in the short-term but not after one year. Strengths use partially explained why the intervention was effective.
McQuaid, M., Niemiec, R. M., & Doman, F. (2018). Character strengths-based approaches in positive psychology coaching. Explores the science of signature strengths and other character strengths findings in the context of the coaching relationship.
Heintz, S., & Ruch, W. (2018). Character strengths and job satisfaction: Differential relationships across occupational groups and adulthood The highest overall work satisfaction strengths as well as the highest strengths among clinical psychologists, social workers, nurses, physicians, supervisors, office workers, teachers, and economists are shown
Gander, F., Ruch, W., Platt, T., Hofmann, J., & Elmer, T. (2018). Current and ideal team roles: Relationships to job satisfaction and calling. In studying a new model of 7 team roles, most roles contributed to job satisfaction and work calling, and only a few relationships were found for ideal roles
Bretherton, R., & Niemiec, R. M. (2018). Character strengths as critique: The power of positive psychology to humanise the workplace. Examines the impactful role of character strengths in the workplace as well as offers a critique of character strengths and an emphasis on the crucial role of humility in leadership, following recent research literatures
Sosik, J. J., Chun, J. U., Ete, Z., Arenas, F. J., & Scherer, J. A. (2018). Self-control puts character into action: Examining how leader character strengths and ethical leadership relate to leader outcomes. In a study of ethical leadership among U.S. Air Force officers and subordinates, leader character strengths were a mechanism for triggering positive outcomes when they reported high self-regulation.
Kalyar, M. N., & Kalyar, H. (2018). Provocateurs of creative performance: Examining the roles of wisdom character strengths and stress. A positive association was found between the character strengths of wisdom and creative work performance among over 700 employees from 200 organizations in Pakistan (
Lavy, S. (2018). A review of character strengths interventions in 21st-century schools: Their importance and how they can be fostered. Outlines an integrative model for the optimal school system that fosters character strengths use and development and as positively affecting students (through positive relationships and curricula), teachers (through training and supervision), and entire schools (through evaluation processes and resource allocation).
Wagner, L. (2018). Good character is what we look for in a friend: Character strengths are positively related to peer acceptance and friendship quality in early adolescents. In a study of character strengths and adolescent peer relationships, the strengths deemed most desirable/important in a friend were honesty, humor, kindness, and fairness, and those most connected with higher peer acceptance were perspective, love, kindness, social intelligence, teamwork, leadership, and humor
Freire, T., Lima, I., Teixeira, A., Araújo, M. R., & Machado, A. (2018). Challenge: To be+. A group intervention program to promote the positive development of adolescents. A program to boost character strengths, positive emotions, and optimal experiences was tested on 9th grade adolescents. Elevations in self-esteem and life satisfaction, with stronger effects for girls, all relative to a comparison group, were found
Shubert, J., Wray‐Lake, L., Syvertsen, A. K., & Metzger, A. (2018). Examining character structure and function across childhood and adolescence. Among a diverse sample of thousands of youth between ages 9-19, researchers found character structure becomes more differentiated as youth develop into adolescence
Niemiec, R. M., & Yarova, A. (2018). Character strengths and health: Research summary (part 1). Chronicle of Advances in Positive Health and Well-being. Offers a review of character strengths studies relating to physical health. Focuses on general health findings with character strengths, studies of specific character strengths, and multi-step programs, as well as physicians and the patient-provider relationship